tv DNC Voting Rights Commission Holds News Conference CSPAN July 24, 2017 8:31am-9:04am EDT
president of let america vote. who is here, our vice chair of the commission that we had we'll talk about in a moment. and congressman castro is here to join us today. we're here, because as we know, president trump has brought forth a commission, they'll have the first meeting today. around the myth of voter fraud we consistently and regularly reject. our job should be making it easier for people to vote, not harder, so we have come forward to create a commission that's focusing on what are we going to do to protect the opportunity for americans to vote across the country and all of the time. we'll be here making sure that we provide consistent response back coming from the trump
administration. when you have administration, such as chris, trying to find more ways for people to have difficulty to vote is the reason we're pushing back in this manner. we're expanding the work under our vice-chair karen carpenter peterson, overseeing civic engagement and voter participation. finding more ways to vote. we hear this nonsensical myth of voter fraud, it's not happening, we're not seeing that. what we're seeing is that people need more opportunities to have a chance to vote and committed to that here at dnc. we've launched a commission, dnc commission, that we'll not allow them to move forward in a manner to hurt our community. their leadership is not led in a bipartisan way. chair and vice-chair are republicans, many republicans on that commission found many ways to push back against us. the commission that we have pulled together is to make sure that we have the democratic response to demonstrate and we
are serious in making sure that we push back and what we hear from the trump administration and find more ways to vote. we should find more ways for people to have access to vote and opportunity to get registered, to be talking about vote by mail and early voting and about the opportunities in more of our communities to engage rather than from the trump administration. as we saw the trump administration and the commission asking data which was obviously soundly rejected across the country in a bipartisan manner to demonstrate that's not what we should be pursuing. lastly, this is our continual attempt of demonstrating the new vision of the democratic party saying we will come together and show our leadership in all aspects. whether it be in the federal government, in the states, the cities, to say people should be having a opportunity to vote not have their votes taken away. >> with that a great leader out of the state of missouri and chair of our commission, jason can tore.
>> thanks, i appreciate it. thank you for coming. thank you very much. let me just start by talking about how it is that the trump commission actually got started in the first place. it's important for us to remember how this started. it started with the biggest lie that a sitting president has ever told, when trump at the time, president-elect trump said that 5 million illegal voters voted in election. most americans looked at that and saw a deeply insecure human being who was trying it sooth his own ego about his margin of loss in the popular vote and people thought maybe that's all this was. i think there's a lot of truth to that. it's more than that. that's why you have not seen, for instance, paul ryan or mitch mcconnell or elected republican leaders stand up and say, you know what, that's not true. the reason you haven't seen that, it fits in perfectly with what their strategy is, to get a lie like that out in the ether, out in the conventional wisdom because if people believe that, it makes a difference.
so this commission started as a way to try and legitimize, to try and justify the biggest lie that a sitting president has told. this commission being the trump commission, but it's morphed from there, and what it's become now, a vehicle for voter suppression. it's important for us to remember what the decent g.o.p. history on voters have been. i was in missouri, a chief official in a state with the majority and seen the suppression play book up close. there are three steps, step one, undermine faith in american democracy so people believe that drastic measures have to be taken, obstacles to voting and step three put up obstacles to the obstacles. what you're seeing from the trump commission, what i call the voter suppression committee to reelect the president, what you're seeing is step one in the process. it's important to--
they pretend it is, but it's not really a policy difference between the parties. it is a political strategy from the republican party that goes back decades now, and here is what it's about. it's not for them, about their political strategy is not about trying to reach out and include groups like minorities, women, you know, low income folks, the disabled. it's not about crafting policies that might include them, instead they have a political strategy of excluding them from the political process, by making it harder for certain folks to vote, including them. so the idea is that if they can keep them from voting they can win elections so it shouldn't be viewed as a policy difference. it should be viewed for what it is, a political strategy for them that's no different than where they run their tv ads or where they send mailers or whose doors they knock on. that's what voter suppression is for them. finally, we should talk about two things, the data grab, because it demonstrates what i'm talking about and who is on the commission.
the recent attempt to grab up the data and have an unprecedented data base that includes your political party demonstrates that, you know, what this probably is, is an attempt to figure out who you voted for so they can decide whether or not to try and push you off the rolls. that's why you've seen bipartisan opposition to this, people like mississippi secretary of state, a republican stand up and say they can jump in the gulf of mexico. and in terms of, you know, actual voter suppression, it's already started from this commission because there are reports, unfortunately, around the country and we are encouraging people not to do this, to do the opposite and get their friends registered instead, we're seeing people so concerned about this, they're pulling their voter registration. which is immediate voter suppression. and vice-president pence has a history voter registration
drive, that's what a voter drive is, it's patriotic. and you had one person so controversial for the federal election commission and now think he should be on this. and secretary of koback of kansas. when i went to my first secretary of state's commission five years ago when president obama was putting forward a package of legislation to try and make voting more convenient and accessible in this country, the secretary stood up and said the commission to do so and legislation to do so was wrong, that the federal government should have no role in any of this, that it's complete overreach. now that president trump is in power, secretary koback has tried to prove voter fraud and has been unsuccessful.
we've this this discussion. going across the bridge in selma, facing down dogs and hoses and that we all have a right to vote and we're fortunate to be joined by a native of selma, the vice-chair of the commission, co-chair of the voting rights caucus. an incredible champion. >> thanks, jason. i want to begin by saying that while i don't believe in our president's baseless voting fraud claims and while i don't believe that we can trust this administration with the facts and while i am deeply disturbed by the characters who the president has chosen to put on his commission, i do agree with our president on one important point, our elections are in need of repair, and the american people deserve solutions that will strengthen our democracy. over the past decade, our
country has seen a new wave of voter suppression tactics that keep low income and minority voters from casting their ballots. the supreme court has struck down our nation's most powerful voter protections and our election infrastructure is out of date. and we need to protect our elections from on-line threats and cyber attacks. the integrity of our election is at risk, but not have voter fraud. if the president is truly concerned with the integrity of our elections that this commission is charged to do, there are real questions that our democracy faces, like what can we do to ensure that every american is able to participate in our democracy? how can we restore the voting rights acts of 1965 and how can we ensure that states are equipped with the most up-to-date technology to run elections? i have the great fortune of sitting on the house intelligence committee and i
can tell you that our elections are in trouble. they are-- there is election integrity, but it's not because of voter fraud, it's because of voter suppression and because of our outdated infrastructure. so there are lots of things that president trump can be doing to actually help americans in this democracy have better elections, but this commission is not one of them. as jason said, i have the great honor of representing my hometown of selma, alabama as well as birmingham and montgomery, old civil rights districts here in congress and i can tell you that people died, bled and fought for the right to vote and it's unacceptable that this president would make a mockery out of voting by having a commission that so focused on voter fraud and not on voter suppression. this is very personal to me because so many of my constituents marched across that bridge, died, fought for the right for all americans to have access to the ballot box.
your vote is your voice and we here on this commission, the dnc's commission, we here will make sure that the voices of excluded are not always the voices of the voiceless. we plan to be that voice and i can tell you, president trump, that we will be watching your commission. we will be making sure that your commission stays on task because there are integrity issues with our election process, but voter fraud is not the problem, it is truly voter suppression. i look forward to working with jason and the rest of the commission. i am honored today to introduce next alex padilla, secretary of state for california, who is a champion in fighting on behalf of voter integrity for those people in california and across this nation. alex. >> thank you, representative sewell. thank you, jason and everybody gathered today. it's my honor to chair on this
commission as well. this is a big day, a big day for democracy because very soon trump's presidential advisory commission on election integrity will meet for the first time. they're going to meet behind closed doors with no ability for the public to attend, no ability for the public to view what they're going to be doing, and no opportunity for the public to begin to hold them accountable for this journey that they're on now. and it's understandable why, because it's clear they've refused americans citizens to witness what the trump administration's agenda really is and that's roll back the clock on voting rights and attack our democracy. as jason laid out, the commission was created for a couple of reasons, number one, to the president's-- he lost the popular vote and can't reconcile that fact.
what does he do in response? makes up this lie of millions of illegal votes across the country. we have invited back that and yet to see one shred of evidence from team trump to backup his claim of massive voter fraud. what does he do, he creates this commission to the integrity of our election, using air quotes here because we know what the truth is when it comes to voter fraud. there have been investigations. there have been reports issued and they all say the same thing, voter fraud is extremely rare and always very isolated. so if that's not where this commission is going, where are they going? we don't have to guess. look at the memo that secretary presented to then president-elect trump during the transition. it laid out a clear strategy, attack and undermine the national voter registration
act. that's where this commission is going and that is an attack on our democracy itself. the 1993 national voter registration act, which by the way, was passed on a bipartisan basis, has been one of the most important pieces of federal legislation that protects our voting rights specifically as it pertains to facilitating people who are eligible registering to vote. this commission is working to the contraire-- contrary. it's not just the secretary. look at other appointees of the commission. ken blackwell, dave christian adams. , the gentlemen, it's been clearly documented, have spent decades working to roll back the clock on voting rights. they're going backwards on
voter registration, backwards on the voting rights act itself. when the commission -- even before meeting, by the way, first a letter to the states requesting unprecedented amount of personal information on every voter in america, the letter was signed by secretary kovacs, not the vice-president, it was an invasion of privacy for every voter in america, california was one of the first, thankfully we were not the only state to push back and say no. since then you've seen republican and democratic secretaries alike push back on this dangerous request for sensitive voter data on all americans and just yesterday in court papers, the commission has admitted what do they intend to do with the data they can collect? they want to store it on white house computers, have white
house personnel have direct access to this data. that's unacceptable and it's dangerous, it violates privacy. it violates voting rights. and it goes contrary to every cyber security recommendation any expert would give you. i know california has spoken. californians have spoken, we do not want our sensitive personal information in the hands of trump and anybody whose purpose is to dismantle voting rights in america and i as secretary of state, on behalf of many, many of my colleagues will not allow it. indeed tens of thousands of americans have already submitted their thoughts and comments to the commission that's being convened today, they did it electronically because that's the only invitation to commit that in comments, tens of thousands of americans have sent their opinions to the commission and they, too, are saying no, hands off of our personal information. and whether it's intentional or
unintentional it's clear to me that trump and the republican congress are looking in the wrong direction. so, if they were genuine about strengthening the integrity of our elections, we have the blueprint for what they should be working on. number one, don't investigate the american people. investigate russia. the intelligence community is unanimous and clear in their findings that the russians interfered with the 2016 election, and every day that goes by that the president and his administration continues to deny it, is one day less that we have to prepare for the 2018 election and to maximize the security and integrity of elections going forward. number two, as has been stated, let's fund new systems in the united states of america. the last time the federal government was a true partner in funding, upgrading and adding secure systems through
our elections was in 2002. the help america vote act, also on a bipartisan basis. number three, don't eliminate, fund the eac, the elections assistance commission, the very body we look to that sets the security standards for voting systems in the country. the very body we look to to aggravate data what's working and not working in the administration, to make it better for voters and more secure for the republican congress to eliminate it. we need them now more than ever. and four, restore the voting rights act because these blatant attacks on our voting rights have come the last several years since the supreme court's decision on shelby v holder. this decision gutting section four of the voting rights act, it's opened the flood gates to the voter suppression laws running rampant state by state
and we see this single agenda for the fraud commission and we will not stand for it. it's my honor to introduce a friend and colleague from the state of texas, representative joaquin castro. >> thank you, alex and thank you to jason kander and ter terri sewell, and everybody who speaks up against the trump commission that undoubtedly will strip away the rights of so many american voters throughout the country. voting should not be an obstacle course. the problem that we have in the united states of america is not that too many people vote too often is that not enough vote in the elections. i say that coming from the state of texas, who has the worst record, and trying to do everything it can, greg abbott and republican state leaders, trying to do everything it can
to suppress the vote, repeatedly federal court after federal court found that the state government has violated the rights of so many texans, including african-american and hispanic texans. and when we think of the i.d. that this is commission is likely to vote, it's a point shaving process. they realize 95% of people may have the approved i.d. necessary to go vote, but how many elections can you win in that 3 or 5% difference? and to speak very specifically to that, the other day i came across a study of harris county. harris county is the largest county in texas. several million people in harris county. and in the 2016 election after it was over, harris county voters were surveyed and one in seven harris county voters who didn't vote said that a big reason they didn't vote was
because they didn't have the state approved i.d. in other words, the voter i.d. laws are having that pernicious effect that was not coincidental, but intended. that is the political point shaving that is intended. and if we allow this subcommission to be successful, that it won't be texas and several other states that have this problem, this will be a problem for all americans throughout the country. and what's the result in the great state of texas? texas consistently ranks in the bottom three, sometimes last in voter participation, election after election. so many people are disenfranchised. so many people have decided or been kept from going to vote. i think it's also important to realize that there are other measures that they're likely to take on this trump commission to disenfranchise voters. let me give you an example from 2011, i believe, in texas that didn't get as much attention as
voter i.d., but i think is just as pernicious in our efforts to get people out to vote. so what the texas legislature did back then, it used to be if you were going in to register people to vote in texas you only had to be deputized to register people in-- you could be deputized across the state, in other words, you just needed to get deputized in one place in texas. they changed the law so if you want to register voter you had to get registered in each of the 254 counties. in other words, you had to get registered for every county that you were going to try to register voters in. for harris county, if you were deputized in harris county you could only register voters in harris county. you couldn't go to a neighboring county and do the same thing. we also have be to watchful and mindful of behind the scenes smaller efforts that also represent obstacle after obstacle. when you combine something like voter i.d. with gerrymandering, you can see the incredible
negative effect that it has on our participatory democracy. i've said before and i'll speak for myself that politicians should no longer be drawing their own political districts. we have to get to a point like california where you have a nonpartisan or bipartisan commission that's drawing our political districts across the country. then americans, i believe, will feel the process is fairer and feel more invested in that political process. we should be moving to a place of automatic voter registration. why is it that we still have a system where it's two steps in order to be able to vote. i hope one day that we can get to a place of on-line voting, but as terri and i know well from the intelligence committee, the first thing we have to do is secure our voting systems. i have been shocked as many americans have been by something the trump administration has not lifted a finger to do a thing about, which is the fact there is no
law on the books right now that requires those who run our election systems, whether it's counties or states, to do a single thing to any-- to guard our voting systems. there is no basic minimum requirement for cyber security protection of our voting systems that exists in the united states. and that is a tragedy and that's the real danger to our democracy. and so thank everybody for their effort. we're going to be watching what this trump commission does. i know the american people will also be watching and again, we need to do everything possible to make sure more people vote, not to make it harder for americans to vote. >> with that we'd be happy to answer any questions. >> do you feel a concerted effort to target african-american voters in particular given the majority of the democratic-- >> yes. anybody else?
>> i think it's no coincidence that the target has been in vulnerable communities. >> come on in here. >> i think it's no coincidence that the target has been in vulnerable communities of color, brown and black communities all across this nation, and-- but we can't underestimate the fact that the seniors citizens and disabled are disadvantaged as well. you take nothing away from this press conference, i hope that you take away the fact that we as elected officials should be about making it easier for people to vote, not making it harder and the fact that the trump administration would put this sham of a commission forward when there are legitimate election integrity issues they could bring up instead of asking for identification. it's a travesty and the american people deserve better.
that's what we hope to work on. obviously, it's a lot of targeting. one appellate court said it with surgical precision that they were-- that these voter i.d. laws were crafted in order to-- with surgical precision target african-american communities, but it's communities of color all across this country as well as our disabled. my father, he was disabled and while he was highly motivated to go vote because i was on the ballot and at the state of alabama introduced a new photo i.d. law right after the shelby decision that no longer let him go vote with his validly issued i.d. called a social security card. let me repeat that, a validly issued federal i.d. called a social security card. instead the state of alabama requires a special voter card and the fact that it took our family, a couple of hours to get my dad ready, dressed to go to the county courthouse and that county courthouse happened
to be grandfathered into the american disabilities act, so it didn't have to have a ramp, okay, i'm a member of congress so they quickly got several guards to come and help my dad and his wheelchair up the steps, only to find out that the voting registration office which is on the second floor, the one elevator in the small county courthouse was out of order. by the time they got someone to fix it because they were highly motivated to help my dad get a photo i.d., you know, the person was out to lunch. how many americans-- it's not about how many, you know, counting how many marbles are in a jar anymore. these are modern day barriers that are just as pernicious, just as dangerous, that stop people, average americans from exercising their right to vote and so, i think that this commission will, you know, we will be watching, but america should be watching as well and
there's lots that we can be doing to make sure that we protect election integrity, but this sham of commission is not one of them. >> try-- sure. >> the president said a month ago that millions voted illegally. i know you reject that. do you have a rough estimate of what the true figure is? are we talking tens or hundreds-- >> you can look at kansas. the person essentially leading the commission, not this one, but the other commission, is secretary of state from kansas who spent just tons of dollars, taxpayers dollars, to try and prove the idea there was all sorts of illegal voting going on. i think they ended up in 1.7 million ballots, i think they found nine cases. and it wasn't even necessarily what the president was
describing. look, this is a lie. i mean, he's the president and we're americans so we would really prefer to be polite, not just us, but the country, when a president tells the biggest lie a president has ever told our natural inclination is to try to give us the benefit of the doubt that we possibly can. there's nothing you can use, no word to describe this other than it is a lie. a lie and as a secretary of sta state, having convened recently with republican and democratic colleagues across the country, here is the president's lies in context. first there's no truth to the massive voter fraud, millions of illegal votes. not a shred of evidence, but what he does, he repeats these allegations and repeats, calls into question the professionalism and integrity not just of every secretary of
state or chief elections officer in the country, but the county elections directors across the land, both republican and democrat, and countless volunteers who give of their time to serve the nation as poll workers, to suggest that there's massive voter fraud is to impugn the integrity of so many people who work so hard for the right to vote, to defend the right to vote and for those who facilitate americans exercising the right to vote and what does the president do? he ignores what the russians did in 2016 and chooses to investigate americans. that's wrong and that's undemocratic and unamerican. >> okay. thank you all very much. i appreciate it.